No. 21 pick: Brandon Clarke
Not every year do you get to make multiple “no-brainer” picks in the first round, but that’s exactly what happened to Memphis on Thursday.
Brandon Clarke was regarded by many NBA Draft scouts as a surefire lottery selection that could come in and make an immediate impact on the defensive end. Many had him rated ahead of fellow Gonzaga big man and No. 9 overall pick, Rui Hachimura.
Clarke averaged 16.9 points, 8.6 rebounds and 3.1 blocks per game last season at Gonzaga. He transferred after playing only two years at San Jose State, meaning he will enter his first season with Memphis at 23 years of age, which is slightly on the older side for most first round picks in today’s NBA.
But Clarke still fits Memphis’ timeline and has shown the ability to buy into his role and shine doing the little things. Peter Edmiston once again highlights some standout advanced metrics from Clarke’s season with Gonzaga:
Clarke completely reworked his jump shot form when he transferred from San Jose State but still only shot 26.7 percent from 3-point range and 69.4 percent from the free throw line. These are the main concerns in his game along with questions about his reach. Clarke stands at 6’8” with an identical wingspan and a standing reach of 8’6″.
This worries some in the NBA for his ability to guard large centers, but pairing him with a player like Jaren Jackson is ideal because of Jackson’s size and mobility. They both should be able to stay on the court together and complement each other’s strengths.
A player like Clarke falling to No. 21 is a huge win for Memphis. Some might say the Grizzlies could have experimented with guards like Virginia’s Ty Jerome or Kentucky’s Keldon Johnson, but they saw the upside in Clarke and envisioned a role for him to come in and contribute at a high level.